In the first court ruling so far on the health care reform law, a federal district court judge upheld the individual mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance starting in 2014.
The Thomas More Law Center, a Christian public interest law firm in Ann Arbor, Mich., and four Michigan residents filed a lawsuit challenging the health care reform law, arguing that the individual mandate to buy insurance was an unconstitutional tax and Congress had exceeded its authority.
In an Oct. 7 decision, U.S District Court Judge George Caram Steeh dismissed the plaintiffs' claims and denied their request for a preliminary injunction, ruling that Congress had the authority to enact the individual mandate provision under its Commercial Clause power of the U.S. Constitution.
"Congress intended to increase the number of insureds and decrease the cost of health insurance by requiring individuals to maintain minimum essential coverage or face a penalty for doing so," the judge wrote in his decision. "Because the 'penalty' is incidental to these purposes, plaintiff's challenge to the constitutionality of the penalty as an improperly apportioned direct tax is without merit."
The center said in a statement it will appeal the decision.